Commissioners to decide on veterans transportation

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Moffat County commissioners will vote Tuesday on a plan to transport local veterans to the hospital in Grand Junction.

If commissioners approve the plan, the Veteran's Service Office will have an additional employee and a vehicle to drive veterans to the hospital.

The vehicle and the VSO employee will be paid for with grant money.

In July, local veteran and Veterans of Foreign Wars leader Charley Watkins and Veteran's Service Officer Tracy Carlson asked the Moffat County commissioners for help transporting veterans to the Veteran's Affairs hospital in Grand Junction.

At the time, Watkins told commissioners that when the VSO drove veterans to the hospital, they had to leave the office in Craig unattended. Moffat County used to have a VSO assistant to work in the office when the VSO was in Grand Junction, but the position was sent to Rio Blanco County a few years ago.

Rio Blanco reimburses Moffat County for the VSO assistant.

It is common for the VSO to use personal vehicles to transport veterans to the hospital.

Watkins asked the commissioners to bring the VSO position back and sign a lease agreement with VFW Post 4265 in Craig so the VSO could use a van owned by the VFW.

Commissioners will vote on the lease and a new employee for the VSO Tuesday.

Commissioners didn't make a decision on the VSO in July because they wanted to talk to the Rio Blanco County commissioners before making a decision. Since then, commissioners decided to create a new position, paid for with grants.

Commissioner Saed Tayyara said he supports the new plan to get local veterans to the hospital.

But, Tayyara said, the new plan would only solve some of the VSO's problems "to a degree" because the plan relies on grant money that might not be there in a year or two.

"We'll use it until it's exhausted," Tayyara said of the grant money.

Watkins agreed, saying the new plan is "only going to take care of us for about a year."

But, Watkins said, hopefully there will be a VA clinic in Northwest Colorado in a year so the VSO won't have to make as many trips to Grand Junction.

The VSO goes to the Grand Junction VA hospital between 30 and 40 times every year.

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